Russia and China on Wednesday vetoed a U.S. move to call on the U.N. Security Council to act on the Israel-Hamas conflict, calling for a pause in fighting to allow access to humanitarian aid, protection of civilians and a halt to armaments to enable Hamas and other militants in the Gaza Strip.
The United States introduced a draft resolution on Saturday as global outrage grew over a worsening humanitarian crisis and rising civilian death toll in Gaza. She took the step just days after she vetoed a humanitarian-focused draft from Brazil, saying more time was needed for U.S.-led diplomacy.
The original U.S. text shocked many diplomats with the bluntness in stating that Israel has the right to defend itself and demanding that Iran stop exporting weapons to militant groups. It did not include a call for humanitarian pauses for access to aid. However, the final text voted on was largely watered down.
“We have listened to all of you,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the 15-member council after the double veto, which she called disappointing. “Although today’s vote was a setback, we must not be deterred.”
It was a rare move by the United States to propose measures to the Security Council. Washington has traditionally shielded its ally Israel in the world organization.
Ten members voted in favor of the US text, while the United Arab Emirates voted no and Brazil and Mozambique abstained.
“The draft does not reflect the world’s loudest calls for a ceasefire and an end to the fighting and does not contribute to resolving the problem,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told the council after the vote. “At this moment, ceasefire is not just a diplomatic term. It means the life and death of many civilians.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a humanitarian ceasefire.
“DUTY TO ACT”
After the deadlock in the Security Council, the 193-member UN General Assembly will vote on Friday on a draft resolution from Arab states calling for a ceasefire. No country has a right of veto in the General Assembly. Resolutions are non-binding, but have political weight.
Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, which rules Gaza, in retaliation for an Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,400 people. Israel has attacked Gaza from the air, besieging the enclave of 2.3 million people and is preparing a ground invasion. According to Palestinian authorities, more than 6,500 people were killed.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia accuses the US of submitting a draft resolution that would constitute the Security Council’s approval of an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza “while thousands of Palestinian children will continue to die.”
After the double veto, the Security Council then voted on a competing text drafted by Russia that called for a humanitarian ceasefire and the reversal of Israel’s order to relocate civilians in Gaza south ahead of a ground attack.
Russia failed to obtain the minimum support required, winning only four votes. A resolution requires at least nine votes and no veto from the United States, France, Britain, Russia or China to pass.
It was Russia’s second attempt at a solution. Only five council members voted in favor of a Russian text on October 16th.
The elected ten members of the Security Council now plan to work on a new draft resolution, said Malta’s UN Ambassador Vanessa Frazier.
“This crisis also poses a growing risk of regional expansion. This requires our undivided attention,” she said. “We have a duty and an obligation to act.”
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